by Xinhua writers Chen Wenxian, Liu Xue
JERUSALEM, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Israel is keen on enhancing its technological and economic cooperation with China, Israeli Economic Minister Eli Cohen told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"We are willing to see more Chinese companies operating in Israel and in the next 30 years we will see more tremendous technological change, and we are willing to increase the cooperation between China and Israel," Cohen said.
Cohen said companies from the U.S. and Europe were the dominant investors in Israel in the past years, but "now we are starting to see a change that more Chinese companies are coming together."
Cooperation between China and Israel in the fields of economy and trade started long time ago. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of their diplomatic ties, the two sides this year announced to set up an innovative comprehensive relationship.
Cohen said he had the great honor to visit China in March with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and attended an innovation conference in Beijing.
More and more business delegations from both sides are visiting each other to explore opportunities of promoting trade and economic cooperation, he added.
So far, China has become the largest trade partner in Asia for Israel and Israel's third largest global trade partner. Statistics show that the bilateral trade volume between China and Israel reached 11.35 billion U.S. dollars a year.
In recent years, Chinese companies have become gradually active in making investment in Israel from the traditional sectors to medical services, clean technology, internet, and etc.
Some leading Chinese firms such as Huawei, Legend and Xiaomi have set up R&D centers in Israel. Bright Food Group has purchased Tnuva, the largest food manufacturing company of Israel.
Companies such as China Civil Engineering Construction Corp. and China Railway Construction Group have worked as investors and constructors in Israel's infrastructure sector for years.
"It is very important to emphasize that Israel and China are not competitors. We are complementary to each other, and we should try and will work together," said Cohen.
He said that two countries should continue to strengthen their economical ties and technological information exchange.
Sources from Invest in Israel, one-stop-shop for foreign investment in Israel run by the Ministry of Economy and Industry, said that China and Israel are in the final stage of finalizing the free trade agreement.
Israel, known as a "startup nation" and " the silicon valley of Middle East," boasts huge advantages of technological innovation.
Cohen noted that the world has changed greatly in the last two decades as it has shifted from its heavy reliance on oil and gas companies in the past to technological ones today.
"In the new technological world, Israel is a key player in all these relevant fields," he said. "Although we are a very tiny country with approximately 8-9 million people, we are actually changing the world and this is our goal in many aspects of life."